Friday, October 31, 2014

GSK, Riga, reporting and ice cream

We were delighted to work once again this year with GSK Latvia on the development of the company's second Corporate Responsibility Report for 2013. The report is the local story of this GSK subsidiary which is making a big impact in a small country with a modest team of just 46 people. The commitment to local transparency and engagement is fantastic. The look and feel of the report aligns with the global GSK report design and structure. GSK Latvia applies global policies and approaches of its parent company including GSK's strong stand on ethics, sales team incentives based on behaviors rather than sales volumes, cessation of payments to physicians for speaking engagements or conference attendance, transparent research practices, investment in employee development and positive environmental practices. However, alongside confirming the way these practices are implemented in Latvia, the content of GSK Latvia's report is finely tailored to the activities and expectations of local patients, healthcare system and team.

Many companies don't make the effort  to report at local level. A global report, covering headlines of global activity, is generally regarded by most of the major multinational corporations as being enough. Big tick. Done that. Report published. At local level, however, the report comes alive. It speaks to local stakeholders about the things that affect their local lives. A recent post from Revital Bitan at Intel (where I contributed some insights) speaks about the importance to Intel in Israel of local reporting and the value it brings. the post is entitled: In CSR Reporting - everything is local!   

Back to Latvia and a report which is full of local people and local flavor. Hear from many GSK Latvian staff and from many local GSK Latvia partners and stakeholders in a report which showcases the incredible energy and commitment of this compact team. For example:

Patient Advocacy: GSK Latvia supports a range of local organizations such as the Asthma and Allergy Society, the Pulmonary Hypertension Society, HIV groups, the Rheumatics society, and the Association of Disabled Women and more. Several leaders of these organizations report how GSK's engagement helps them advance their activities and support patients who need far more than the state healthcare system is able to offer. 

Leading sustainability in Latvia: GSK Latvia is the first and only pharma company to have been honored in Latvia's Sustainability Index for 2013. The Index recognizes advanced sustainability strategy, management and practice and sets the standard for companies in Latvia. 

Funding local causes and volunteering in the community: Even a company of less than 50 people can make an impact. And that's what GSK Latvia sets out to do with its local flagship programs - Mission Possible (an initiative that helps drive quality leadership in education through support for teachers and school principals) and the Small Grants Programme (which awards up to Eur 700 per project for locally relevant initiatives - 9 initiatives have been supported in the last two years) as well as participating in the GSK global volunteering effort under the umbrella of Orange Day. It amazes me how such a small and very busy team manages to do so much. 

Family friendly: On the inside, GSK Latvia has achieved Family Friendly status as recognized by the Ministry of Welfare in the Latvian Government. GSK Latvia is the first local pharma company to achieve this status. In a team where 50% of managers are women, including the General Manager, this is not a trivial matter. Family friendly means that both men and women can enjoy an inclusive culture and equal opportunity at work. 

Supporting healthcare policy: GSK's Latvia's involvement in local healthcare infrastructure and development is important to help patients in Latvia gain access to the best options and the best healthcare treatment. GSK Latvia supports The Foreign Investors Council in Latvia (FICIL) - an organization that brings together the largest companies from various countries and sectors that have made significant investments in Latvia. With a place on the Board of FICIL, GSK Latvia drives home the message that an investment in healthcare is an investment in the economy. Lack of access to healthcare limits economic growth. GSK Latvia has been instrumental in ensuring healthcare issues have a place on the FICIL agenda and are included in FICIL's annual report, a recent new addition.

Ice cream in Latvia: Ok, you're right, this is not part of the GSK Latvia report. But how can I talk about a report without mentioning ice cream? So if you are in Riga, then Skrīveri Home-made Ice Cream seems to me to be the place to go. 100% natural ice cream with all-natural flavors. First stop next trip.

In the meantime, read the report, give feedback! 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen)  or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm).  Check out our G4 Report Expert Analysis Service - for published G4 reports or pre-publication - write to Elaine at to help make your G4 reporting  even better.   

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